Portland protesters target city's mayor amid rising tensions

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2020 The Associated Press

Portland police make arrests on the scene of the nightly protests at a Portland police precinct on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Oregon State Police will return to Portland to help local authorities after the fatal shooting of a man following clashes between President Donald Trump supporters and counter-protesters that led to an argument between the president and the city's mayor over who was to blame for the violence. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon, shifted their focus to the city's mayor, and police declared a riot as people broke windows, vandalized a business and set a small fire inside the upscale apartment building where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives.

The demonstration that began late Monday and extended into Tuesday fell on Wheeler's 58th birthday and featured shiny golden alphabet balloons that protesters used to spell out an expletive.

They sang on the street outside the mayor's building, some wearing party hats, and the fire was set with a bundle of newspapers in a store housed on the ground floor of Wheeler's building. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.

Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, has come under fire for his failure to bring the violence in Oregon's largest city under control and for heading up a police force that has used tear gas multiple times against demonstrators.

Some also blame the mayor for engaging in a war of words with President Donald Trump instead of focusing on local needs. Trump has put Portland and other Democrat-led cities in the crosshairs of a “law and order” re-election campaign theme — a move that's escalated tensions in the city and drawn the attention of right-wing Trump supporters.

A supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was killed Saturday during clashes between dueling protesters. A caravan of Trump supporters, estimated at about 600 cars, encountered Black Lives Matter protesters as they drove through the downtown and skirmishes broke out.

Police have not announced an arrest in the slaying of Aaron J. Danielson, 39, of Portland, and have said nothing about what led up the shooting.

Police Chief Chuck Lovell denounced the vandalism and said it was an escalation of previous protester actions.